Biodiversity is the variety of life found on earth and includes all species of plants, animals and other living organisms, their abundance and genetic diversity. Biodiversity has its own intrinsic value, contributing to society’s well-being, sense of place and cultural identity. Our biodiversity also provides a measure of the health of natural living systems and the success of the delivery of SMNR (the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources).
Geodiversity describes the variety of rocks, fossils, minerals, earth surface (geomorphic) processes, landforms and soils that underlie and determine the character of our landscape and support the provision of many ecosystem services.
Biodiversity and geodiversity are key components of ecosystems. Any loss or damage to either can affect ecosystem functioning and its ability to adapt to change. These ecosystems regulate our climate, provide us with oxygen to breathe, our food and clean water; they sustain all life, including our own and maintain the world as we know it. They also contain the genetic capacity to adapt or evolve in response to changing environmental conditions. Protecting and enhancing biodiversity can build or maintain ecosystem resilience and improve the quality of the wider environment and, ultimately, the safety and stability of human life and communities. Whereas loss of biodiversity renders ecosystems – and eventually humans – fragile and vulnerable to change.
The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, with about half of its pre-human biodiversity left, far below the global average of 75% and the safe limit of 90%. Whilst it is very important that we drastically cut GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions, it won’t be enough. We need to have a more holistic approach that understands the role biodiversity can play in climate action. The biodiversity crisis and climate crises fuel each other. Biodiversity stabilises climate, since plants and trees capture and store GHGs. But it’s estimated that 1 in 6 species globally could become extinct due to climate change.
CPRW accepts that the Climate and Biodiversity are interdependent, and both are in crisis. Tackling one without the other makes little sense and yet, policymakers (and even some scientists) tend to forget this, resulting in climate mitigation and adaptation policies that often fail to take account of biodiversity according to the Grantham Institute for climate change and the environment (imperial College, London).
In common with most governments worldwide, the Welsh Government have declared and accepted that there is a Biodiversity crisis and Nature Emergency alongside the Climate Crisis. This justifies CPRW’s pursuit of a clearly defined Biodiversity policy as a key part of our mission to protect the Welsh Countryside. After all, a healthy biosphere has important roles to play in climate change mitigation and human health & wellbeing.